Chelsea, MI

Chelsea, Michigan's Jeff Daniels is the Voice of Hemingway in an Upcoming PBS Documentary Series

Tracy Stengel via Wikimedia Commons

Chelsea’s own Jeff Daniels plays the voice of Ernest Hemingway in Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s HEMINGWAY, a three-part, six-hour documentary series, airing on PBS April 5–7. The film delves deep into the scandalous, stormy, and tragic life of one of the most influential and notorious American writers. Hemingway was the 1952 Pulitzer Prize winner for The Old Man and the Sea and awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

Hemingway, born in 1899, was raised in Oak Park, Illinois but summered at his family’s cottage on Walloon Lake in Petoskey, Michigan. In Northern Michigan, he learned to hunt and fish and developed a deep love of nature and the great outdoors. In his novella, The Torrents of Spring, the story was based on the town of Petoskey. author posing with Hemingway’s statue in Petoskey, Michigan. Photo courtesy of author.

In many ways, Hemingway’s life was one of legend, ladies, and loaded with machismo. He was an ambulance driver in World War I and seriously wounded, married four times, served as a journalist in the Spanish Civil War, and survived two plane crashes — two days in a row. He had permanent residences in Key West, Florida and Cuba. Ultimately, in 1959, he bought a home in Idaho and ended his life with a shotgun.

According to, at a press event promoting the PBS documentary, Jeff Daniels said of Hemingway, “Lucky for him he could write.”

The documentary doesn't shy away from Hemingway’s negative traits such as being psychologically and physically abusive to those close to him, his drinking, or his divorces. It also explores Hemingway’s sexuality, revealing his mother dressed him in dresses and his sister in pants. Later, he asked his wives to call him ‘Katherine’ and he would call them ‘Pete’ in the bedroom. Who knew?

The documentary used interviews from literary scholars and acclaimed writers, rare archival footage, original manuscripts, and input from Hemingway’s son, Patrick, to uncover the man beneath the myth. writing at a campsite in Kenya. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Jeff Daniels, Chelsea, Michigan’s beloved resident and award-winning actor, is in good company as the lead voice in HEMINGWAY. The voices of Hemingway’s four wives are played by: Keri Russell, Mary Louise Parker, Meryl Streep, and Patricia Clarkson.

As a huge fan of Hemingway, I look forward to this documentary for an in-depth look at the life and works of a writer I admire. It’s a huge bonus to hear one of my favorite actor’s voice speaking Hemingway’s words. Talk about a win-win! My calendar is marked. Be sure to tune in or set you DVR for six hours of real-life drama.

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

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